The “you didn’t build that” guy is back.
In 2012 at a campaign appearance, then President Barrack Obama said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Many small business owners didn’t take kindly to that remark. Every new business begins with an idea and the personal courage to follow through on it. Business ownership is an individual effort and risk. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of all startups fail within five years.
The Obama administration backpedaled. It tried to reinforce the message that because business owners receive benefits from the government such as public education and the use of public roads, it supports the “you didn’t build that” notion.
Surprisingly, there can be a widespread and incorrect understanding that the government is some separate entity in this country—not a 100 percent taxpayer-funded one—that provides public goods. Statements like Obama’s fuel that misunderstanding.
The reality is that the small business owner builds a business and also funds public schools and roads through taxes. That’s a lot of individual building. Not government building.
Now Obama’s back on the campaign trail, trying to help Democrats get elected in the midterms. This time, he’s attempting to take some credit for the roaring economy.
There are times when a current president benefits from a past president’s policies.
One example is the Berlin Wall. It fell during the George H.W. Bush presidency. But history books will give greater credit to his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, and his policy of peace through strength. Reagan initiated the policy and Bush maintained it. He “stayed the course.”
The same is not true for the Obama – Trump transition. Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, campaigned to reverse the course of Obama—not maintain it. Now he’s called President Trump.
Under the Obama administration, business-harming regulations escalated. One of Trump’s first moves as president was issuing an executive order that directed government agencies to repeal two regulations for every new rule enacted. According to the White House, the regulation rollback was actually 22 regulations removed for every new rule instituted during 2017.
Obama also favored tax increases. However, Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress delivered a tax cut that benefits both individuals and businesses.
And according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, optimism among small businesses has soared. It’s been tracking it for 45 years, and it’s never been higher.
The optimism factor is very much leader-driven, and it surged directly after Trump was elected.
Juanita Duggan, NFIB’s president and CEO, states, “There is no question that the change of policy in Washington has everything to do with the increase in the optimism index.”
Historians will not connect Obama with this current economic surge, no matter how often he attempts to take credit for it at campaign rallies. Losing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wrote a book called, “What Happened,” where she blamed everyone else for her failures. Maybe Obama will one day write a book called, “I Happened,” where he takes credit for everyone else’s successes.
Many may feel a personal dislike for Trump. Pick a tweet. Any tweet.
For some, it makes it awfully tough to acknowledge anything positive coming out of his presidency.
But small business owners are less interested in tweets and personalities than they are in policy changes that will help, and not hinder, their businesses.
And when small businesses succeed, the country succeeds. According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, small businesses account for more than 90 percent of all companies in the country.
It remains to be seen if Trump can sustain this roaring economy. The midterm elections will have a lot to say about that.
Until then, give credit where credit is due. Even if it’s only begrudgingly.